Mellieħa is a Maltese summer’s dream with its crystal clear waters and captivating countryside capturing the imagination of both locals and travellers.
It is a town nestled up north, away from the hustle and bustle, that offers a vibrant centre and a nature lover’s paradise all wrapped into one.
Mellieħa stands on a group of hills, which means it has some spectacular views of the entire island. It stretches across woodlands, beaches, countryside, and picturesque hamlets – offering a little something special for anyone who visits.
It’s also just a stone’s throw away from sister islands Gozo and Comino, making easy visits across every part of the islands a simple task.
With the help of Ryde, here’s a Lovin Malta guide to this amazing place to visit.
1. Mellieħa is a swimming Shangri-la
If there’s one thing this town is known for it’s the sea with thousands flocking to its crystal waters all year round.
There’s the iconic Għadira Bay, Malta’s longest beach, which offers some of the best waters on the island all while housing some comforting seaside snack spots that make relaxing by the shore with little effort an easy possibility.
And if swimming at the bay isn’t enough for you, the Għadira nature reserve is right across the road, an oasis in Malta that showcases and protects the birds that visit the island.
Or you could head down to either Armier Bay, which has countless beach clubs and awesome eating spots for anyone to enjoy, or Paradise Bay, situated right near Cirkewwa.
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Għajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay, two of Malta’s most beautiful beaches, are also nearby – making Mellieħa the home of Maltese summer.
For the more adventurous, Mellieħa has some stunning lesser-known spots that turn a day by the beach into a summer’s dream. Imgiebaħ Bay and its nearby cove lie at the end of the stunning Selmun valley, which alone offers some of the best treks on the island.
The best part is, the beach is also dog friendly, making it the perfect day out for you and your four-legged friends.
Meanwhile, you can also visit the small picturesque cove Slugg’s Bay or take a trip down to Anchor Bay, which is nestled in a bay that also calls the set of Popeye Village home.
And best of all might just be the Coral Lagoon – a unique spot that’s a serene delight. But be careful, conditions around the area can be troublesome so always be on the lookout for currents and waves outside the lagoon.
We could go on and on and on. The truth is, when it comes to Mellieħa and the island’s best swimming spots, you’re spoiled for choice.
2. Some of the best walks on the island
While summer might be on the tip of everyone’s lips when you mention Mellieħa, in truth the locality offers so much whatever the season.
Mellieħa is surrounded by some of the best trekking spots on the island, showcasing all that Malta’s natural landscape has to offer.
Selmun Valley is a paradise with winding hills, dramatic slopes, and ever-changing landscapes that’s far away from the urban sprawl that dominates the rest of the island. Whether it’s a quick stroll to Fort Campbell, along a punic trail or a seriously adventurous hike, Selmun has it all.
Or you can visit Mizieb or Aħrax, some of Malta’s few woodlands that offer a completely different perspective to what a truly green Malta could look like.
There’s even Majjistral park, a nature reserve that includes a stretch of six kilometres of protected coast and is a delight for nature lovers during the winter and spring season.
As if that wasn’t enough – you can even head down to the area beyond the red tower, a sprawling circular walk that hugs the coast and has some of the best views of Malta, Gozo, and Comino.
3. Now for a little bit of history
Yes, beaching and hiking can be pretty awesome, but Mellieħa’s also steeped in history with its roots dating back to the neolithic period and it has a number of megalithic remains, including the temple of Għajn Żejtuna.
It has touched upon every part of history since, however, notable standouts are the iconic deep red St Agatha’s Tower, Selmun Palace and Fort Campbell, which both stand on top of Selmun valley.
Wherever you walk you’re bound to see remnants of the past, with pillboxes, bastions, and ancient trails popping up all over Mellieħa.
It’s also got some quirky spots like Ir-Razzett tax-Xitan (The Devil’s Farmhouse), an eighteenth-century farmhouse built by the Knights, but myth claims to have actually been built by the devil himself.
Meanwhile, Mellieħa is also known for cave-dwelling past, with many calling the caves along the hillside home until being forced into communities under colonial rule.
It’s actually rumoured that the word Għarukaza, which means ‘disgrace’ in modern Maltese comes from L-Għar u Casa meaning ‘the cave and home’.
If you’re looking for an architectural marvel, look no further than Manikata’s parish church. Designed by Richard England, it’s a sight to behold and a must-visit for anyone looking to get a taste of the architect’s aesthetic and his impact on Malta.
4. The feast
Mellieħa is known for many things but its feast is a standout. While COVID-19 may have kept people at bay, the feast is a must-visit for anyone looking to get a taste of what the country’s religious feasts are all about.
Celebrated on 8th September, Mellieħa’s feast not only celebrates the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, but it also commemorates Malta’s victory day, which marks the defeat of the Ottoman invaders during the Great Siege of 1565, the victory over the French in 1800, and the moment Italy switched to the allied powers during World War Two.
Mellieħa’s church is also a marvel, whether or not there’s a feast going on. While the building is awe-inspiring in itself, the surrounding views turn the spot into an Instagrammer’s delight.
Mellieħa is a tourist hotspot and many locals call the town home during the summer months – meaning that it’s filled with some amazing restaurants and little eateries that anyone can enjoy, no matter the budget.
A standout is Commando, a Michelin bib-gourmand restaurant situated right by the church in the town centre that represents both the traditional and the experimental.
There’s also 180, which offers a large but delicious menu with stellar valley views, or Pirata, an Italian-run family restaurant, that sits right on Mellieħa bay.
And who can forget Seaview Cafe, an awesome little coffee shop that sits right at the top of Mellieħa and has one of the best views the country has to offer.
If that’s not your thing, there are countless spots by the bay, like Munchies, and the centre that offer all different kinds of food and drinks. There are some iconic pubs like Billy’s and Crosskeys – comfort food spots like burger-joint Hermanos, Turkish eatery Kebab Factory, and pie shop Fred’s.
6. Where to stay?
A number of hotels and bnbs line Mellieħa, so the choices for where to stay are endless. The Seabank Hotel, Danish Village Complex, and the under-construction Mellieħa Bay hotel have some of the best spots by the bay itself, but there are also spots in the centre, like Maritim, and others by Cirkewwa like Paradise Bay Hotel.
There’s also the picturesque Golden Sands nearby which sits right on top of Golden Bay. Or if you’re looking for something a little bit more intimate, head over to Lure Hotel.